Kisco Updates IBM i Twitter Utility
Published: November 9, 2010
by Alex Woodie
Kisco Information Systems has added a tweet scheduler to SNDTWEET, an IBM i utility that turns the Twitter messaging service into a system monitoring and communication tool for System i and Power Systems shops. Version 3, which debuted last week, also supports the new authentication mechanism mandated by Twitter, as well as other new functionality.
SNDTWEET, which Kisco launched a year and a half ago, allows IBM i users to make novel use of Twitter, the social networking service that has taken the world by storm, and now rivals Facebook in social media import.
While many people use Twitter to share with others the mundane details of their daily lives (indeed, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey likens the word "twitter" to "a short burst of inconsequential information"), Kisco sees a very practical use for Twitter with SNDTWEET.
Namely, Kisco uses Twitter as a way to automatically alert administrators to events occurring on the IBM i server, in real time. In this manner, Kisco is basically using Twitter as a free, easily accessed, and (mostly) stable communication backbone--a free short messaging service (SMS), if you like.
Since the first release, SNDTWEET has been able to notify administrators of server problems, such as abnormally ending jobs or the arrival of a critical file in a particular library. The second release added interactive capabilities, which allowed administrators to "tweet" back to the IBM i server. This gave administrators the capability to make status inquiries, and get current summary information about server batch activity, message queue status, and interactive user status in return. The capability to write SNDTWEET commands into CL programs gives customers a great deal of freedom to create all kinds of uses for the software.
With SNDTWEET version 3, Kisco adds additional pre-written commands for checking on system status, job status, and user status, according to Kisco. All of these status inquiries are driven from the user's Twitter webpage, which can be accessed from a standard Web browser on a PC or a smart phone.
Kisco also updated some of the less operational aspects of SNDTWEET, namely the capability to use the utility to broadcast tweets from the IBM i server for general communications, project coordination, or marketing purposes. (While the Twitter.com service is quite easy to master, SNDTWEET gives users Twitter access from their green screens, which can be useful in some situations.)
This is where the new tweet scheduler in version 3 can come in handy. With the new tweet scheduler, customers can prepare tweets in advance, and SNDTWEET will automatically post them to Twitter at the right day and time.
Kisco made several other changes with version 3. SNDTWEET now takes steps to reduce the chances that Twitter will delete a post that appears to be a duplicate of a previous post, which is a common problem when using SNDTWEET to monitor IBM i message queues.
On the security front, SNDTWEET now supports the OAuth authentication method required by Twitter for all posting activity. The OAuth mechanism requires a digital security certificate, which will require some additional configuration on the part of customers, Kisco says. "Current customers have already made this transition successfully," the company says.
Lastly, Kisco now allows customers to restrict the capability to submit commands to SNDTWEET to only those users who have Twitter user profiles that allow this to occur. The utility will perform a positive Twitter profile check before running any command submitted from a remote user, the company says.
SNDTWEET version 3 is available now. The software runs on i5/OS V5R3 and higher, and costs $395 for a single logical partition, and $595 for an unlimited number of LPARs on a single machine. For more information and free 30-day trial downloads, see www.kisco.com.
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